bishops, tents and the city

Sharon Borthwick visited the occupations at London’s St Paul’s and Finsbury Square

Outside St Paul’s the Royal British Legion had set up a poppy selling stall, “Shoulder to shoulder with all who Serve”. From this side of the cathedral one couldn’t yet see the occupation site, and the reminder that ex-servicemen are obviously not given decent enough pensions to live by seemed especially pertinent, in a time when concessions made to the working class in the aftermath of World War II are all under attack.

The ruling class were wise then to introduce the welfare state, they knew that social unrest was brewing. The years prior to the war too were full of suffering; it truly was a Great Depression.  During the Blitz public space also came to the forefront. It took an organised committee of citizens to eventually gain permission to access the London Underground stations for protection. With 40% of Britain’s housing stock flattened, the authorities eventually had to overlook squatting. Paternoster Square was the intended site of this occupation: formerly a public square it is now owned by the Subishi Estate Company which prior to the protest, oh so gracefully permitted 24 hour access. It is fine to come to London to work and shop. The profiteers are at least spooked, The Canary Wharf Group plc has just obtained a high court injunction preventing “any persons unknown remaining on the Canary Wharf estate in connection to protest action.” Continue reading “bishops, tents and the city”